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The Immediate First Responder

By Becky Lewis
February 2013

School resource officers (SROs) are more than just police officers assigned full time to a school: They are the immediate first responders to any incidents that happen on campus.

"The SRO is always the immediate first responder to any and all incidents that happen on campus," says Kevin Quinn, president of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). "That’s a very critical aspect of the job. There’s no response time, because we’re already here. In the time it would take somebody in the office to pick up a phone, call 911 and tell a dispatcher, who would then relay that information to an officer who isn’t familiar with the campus, I would have already walked down the hall and been on the scene."

SROs play two other key roles in addition to covering their beats at the school. They visit classrooms and make presentations on school safety, traffic laws, general law and crime prevention; and they confer with students, parents and family members on legal problems and crime prevention.

NASRO, founded in 1989, provides training and other resources to help SROs perform all of those roles better. The organization offers basic and advanced training for SROs and managers, as well as specialized training in legal issues affecting school safety. Quinn says that requests for training have "exploded" in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings in Newtown, Conn., with NASRO scheduling approximately 50 training classes through August 2013. For more information on NASRO, its trainings and its annual conference, visit the NASRO website at http://www.nasro.org or call (888) 316–2776.

"I wish the Sandy Hook shooting never happened and very few people knew that we existed," says Quinn, whose organization saw both its membership and attendance at its annual conference decline sharply during the economic downturn that started in 2008.

"Since it did happen, we want SROs and law enforcement agencies everywhere to know what we are all about and that we’re here to help."

Kevin Quinn wrote an opinion piece for CNN as part of a special series on school safety that ran in mid-January 2013. You can read it at http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/17/my-view-more-school-resource-officers-more-safe-school-communities/?hpt=hp_bn1.